Is Our Water At Risk…From The EPA?

Gold King Mine Wastewater Accident Caused By EPA.

In the photo above, water flows through a series of sediment retention ponds built to reduce heavy metal and chemical contaminants from the Gold King Mine wastewater accident, in the spillway about 1/4 mile downstream from the mine, outside Silverton, Colorado.

The question would be, why did such a spill occur?  Who is contaminating public lands this time?

Strangely enough, the answer seems to be the EPA itself.  An official government investigation laid the blame for the disaster on the feet of the organization that is charged with protecting the public from such disasters.

Read the details below!

Government investigators squarely blamed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday for a 3 million-gallon wastewater spill from a Colorado gold mine, saying an EPA cleanup crew rushed its work and failed to consider the complex engineering involved, triggering the very blowout it hoped to avoid.

The spill that fouled rivers in three states would have been avoided had the EPA team checked on water levels inside the Gold King Mine before digging into a collapsed and leaking mine entrance, Interior Department investigators concluded.

The technical report on the causes of the Aug. 5 spill has implications across the United States, where similar disasters could lurk among an estimated hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines that have yet to be cleaned up. The total cost of containing this mining industry mess could top $50 billion, according to government estimates.

The root causes of the Colorado accident began decades ago, when mining companies altered the flow of water through a series of interconnected tunnels in the extensively mined Upper Animas River watershed, the report says.

EPA documents show its officials knew of the potential for a major blowout from the Gold King Mine near Silverton as early as June 2014. After the spill, EPA officials described the blowout as “likely inevitable” because millions of gallons of pressurized water had been bottling up inside the mine.

The Interior report directly refutes that assertion. It says the cleanup team could have used a drill rig to bore into the mine tunnel from above, safely gauging the danger of a blowout and planning the excavation accordingly. Instead, the EPA crew, with the agreement of Colorado mining officials, assumed the mine was only partially inundated.

The blowout tainted rivers in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and on the Navajo Nation with dangerous heavy metals including arsenic and lead, temporarily shutting down drinking water supplies and cropland irrigation.

EPA officials pointed out that the mine plug already was leaking and could have eventually blown out anyway, and the Interior report acknowledged that was possible.

Guidelines for cleaning up abandoned mines focus on details such as water sampling and treatment. Yet they have “little appreciation for the engineering complexity,” and require but don’t receive significant expertise, the Interior Department’s 132-page report concluded.

Plugging abandoned or inactive mines has been common industry practice for more than a century. The report lists 31 mines across the U.S. where so-called bulkheads were installed since the 1950s to stem the flow of water into or out of a mine.

Abandoned hard-rock underground mines are not subject to the same federal and state safety requirements other mining operations must follow, and “experience indicates that they should be,” the report concluded.

“A collapsed flooded mine is in effect a dam, and failure must be prevented by routine monitoring, maintenance, and in some cases remediation. However, there appears to be a general absence of knowledge of the risks associated with these facilities. A comprehensive identification of sites, evaluation of the potential to fail, and estimation of the likely downstream consequences should failure occur, are good first steps in such an endeavor.”

Source: Fox News

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